Some favourite paragraphs

He knelt down and found the tuna under the stem with the gaff and drew it toward him keeping it clear of the coiled lines. Holding the line with his left shoulder again, and bracing on his left hand and arm, he took the tuna off the gaff hook and put the gaff back in place. He put one knee on the fish and cut strips of dark red meat longitudinally from the back of the head to the tail. They were wedge-shaped strips and he cut them from next to the back bone down to the edge of the belly. When he had cut six strips he spread them out on the wood of the bow, wiped his knife on his trousers, and lifted the carcass of the bonito by the tail and dropped it overboard. – Ernest Hemingway (Old man and the sea).

“I want everybody to listen up now because this is important. In a fair fight who would emerge victorious, a tiger or a polar bear? Now the tiger is a fast powerful sinewy animal that has everything it takes to make a good hunter and killer. The tiger is classic. But you’ll be making a big mistake if you underrate the polar bear. Polar bear can take off your arm with one lazy swipe of the paw. Polar bear has amazing speed for his size and he can camouflage himself in the snow. Natural selection is the name we give to this phenomenon. Tiger or polar bear.” – Don DeLillo (Americana).

Near dusk on that day, the third of September, people began to drift slowly–almost aimlessly–down Table Mesa Drive toward Larry and Lucy’s house: Singly,by couples, in threes. They sat on the front steps of houses that bore Harold’s x-sign on their doors. They sat on curbs and lawns that were dry and brown at this long summer’s ending. They talked a little in low tones. They smoked their cigarettes and their pipes. Brad Kitchner was there, one arm wrapped in a bulky white bandage and supported in a sling. Candy Jones was there, and Rich Moffat showed up with two bottles of Black Velvet in a newsboy’s pouch. Norman Kellogg sat with Tommy Gehringer, his shirtsleeves rolled up to show sunburned, freckled biceps. The Gehringer boy’s sleeves were rolled up in imitation. Harry Dunbarton and Sandy DuChiens sat on a blanket together, holding hands. Dick Vollman, Chip Hobart, and sixteen-year-old Tony Donahue sat in a breezeway half a block up from Larry’s tract house, passing a bottle of Canadian Club back and forth, chasing it with warm Seven-Up. Patty Kroger sat with Shirley Hammett. There was a picnic hamper between them. The hamper was well filled, but they only nibbled. By eight o’clock the street was lined with people, all of them watching the house. Larry’s cycle was parked out front, and George Richardson’s big Kawasaki 650 was parked beside it. – Stephen King (The Stand).

Fortunately, Hope’s stepfather and myself had just completed the ‘front’ nine and were washing our balls in the Tenth tee’s device when the thunderstorm broke, and I was able to get him into the Club-house before the worst of the wind and the rain of the storm commenced, and to get the cart checked back in while my stepfather-in-law dried off, changed clothes and telephoned his wife about another adjustment in his morning schedule due to our having gotten ‘in’ only nine holes. The old fellow had originally wanted to tee off at almost dawn, and I had found myself unable to explain why this could represent a possibly untenable hardship without opening the whole ‘can of worms’ of the conflict in front of Hope, who was there at the prior evening’s restaurant’s table as we finalized arrangements; and now, in the Clubhouse vestibule, there was an air of, as it were, ‘triumphant’ grievance in the retired M.D.’s posture at the bank of phones when I found him there, freshly changed except for his visor and spikes, which he had also worn when driving us to the Raritan Club at 7:40 A.M., insisting on our taking his red Saab coupe pace the fact that it was my own vehicle which had the ‘Member’ parking sticker, resulting in administrative delays in parking which caused us to miss our scheduled ‘Tee time,’ adding to the incompleteness of our round. – David Foster Wallace (Oblivion).

A traffic policeman, deep in the nightmare of crisscross streets— at half-past-four p.m. in a factory town — was the hand of chance that interrupted the spell. He beck­oned me on, and then with the same hand cut off my shadow. A score of cars were launched in between us, and I sped on, and deftly turned into a narrow lane. A spar­row alighted with a jumbo bread crumb, was tackled by another, and lost the crumb. – Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita)

Came a night when, no doubt goaded by the admiration she aroused, or maybe wanting to gratify their shamless longing, she overreached herself. Removing all her clothes, she danced naked in the moonlight. For a moment, men were moved by the power of a woman’s naked body. The moon played on her: an ecstasy, a mixture of agony and joy hovered on the woman’s face. Perhaps she, too, knew this was the end: a woman never walked or danced naked in public. She was removed from the throne. – Ngugi Wa Thiongo (Grain of Wheat).

From the cold-storage locker at the rear of the store, Victor Nielson wheeled a cart of winter potatoes to the vegetable section of the produce department. In the almost empty bin he began dropping the new spuds, inspecting every tenth one for split skin and rot. One big spud dropped to the floor and he bent to pick it up; as he did so he saw past the check-out stands, the registers and displays of cigars and candy bars, through the wide glass doors and onto the street. A few pedestrians walked along the sidewalk, and along the street itself he caught the flash of sunlight from the fender of a Volkswagen as it left the store’s parking lot. – Philip K. Dick (Time Out of Joint).

The little blood that trickled out was like a sunset on a murderous day in Kampala. – Dambudzo Marechera (Black Sunlight).

He was Vellya Thomban now. The Big Tusker. She put the coconut on the ground next to him. A leathery wrinkle parted to reveal a liquid glint of elephant eye. – Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things).

I remember the way a Phantom pilot talked about how beautiful the surface to air missiles looked as they drifted up toward his plane to kill him. – Michael Herr (Dispatches).

In that instant, I had an image of Rita on all fours slowly chewing the cud, like the cows I had seen at Grandmother’s. – Nekesa Wanjala (The Day Rita Thin Broke My Head).

She sleeps on the roof when it’s not too cold and this is where he sees her, on the roof of a boarded four-story building with fire escape intact. He’s up there wandering, thinking his thoughts, a man who drifts in and out of the Wall, a sidler type, doesn’t like to be looked at, and when you enter a name search the screen reads Searching. He comes across the sleeping girl and feels a familiar anger rising and knows he will need to do something to make her pay. He’s on her like that. She tries to fight but does not cry out. He beats her with the end of his fist, sending hammerblows to the head. Struggle bitch get hit. He wants to turn her over on her face and put it up inside her. She fights and whisper-cries in a voice that makes him angrier, like who the fuck she think she is, and the screen reads Searching. Either way he’s gonna hit her, she struggle or not, and he looks away when he does it, sidler-type. No eye contact, cunt. Last woman he looked at was his mother. After he does it, driving it in and spilling it out, he hits her one last time, hard, whore, and drags her up on the ledge and leans her over and lets her go. You dead, bitch. Then he goes back to thinking his nighttime thoughts. Screen reads Searching. – Don DeLillo (Underworld).




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